The impact of obesity on this country and worldwide cannot be overstated.
Obesity has become one of the leading causes of preventable mortality in this country. A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimates that in the United States there are more than 400,000 deaths per year that are somehow related to the complications of obesity. This makes obesity second only to tobacco smoking on the list of preventable causes of death. The mortality risk of obesity is not simply a result of body weight, but rather a slow progressive break down of every organ system in the body. In some, this manifests as cardiovascular disease. In others, organs such as the lungs and liver fail. All told, the progressive deterioration of the body amounts to illness, missed time from work, disability, and a burden on the healthcare system and budget. Healthcare spending to treat the complications of overweight and obesity approaches $100 billion annually in this country. All data indicate that the problem is getting worse year by year.
Despite the severity of the problem, efforts to prevent obesity and the treatments for obesity have been largely unsuccessful. About two-thirds of the adult U.S. population meets the definition of overweight (body mass index greater than 25 kg/m2), and half of those are considered obese (BMI > 30 kg/m2.) An astonishing 12 million to 15 million American adults are morbidly obese (BMI > 40kg/m2.) The problem has reached our children as well. More and more children are being diagnosed with and treated for type II diabetes mellitus, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes.
There are enough diet plans reported to be the latest breakthrough to fill a bookstore. Television and print advertising repeatedly demonstrates how easy it is to get control of weight if a person just takes this herbal supplement or other type of pill (these statements are not evaluated or supported by the FDA, if you read the fine print.) One can try behavioral therapy, hypnosis or acupuncture. Maybe try drugs like orlistat, sibutramine or amphetamine derivatives. There are too many options to list; however, the bottom line is that these efforts tend to produce only modest weight-loss results and only for a short time. Less than 10 percent are capable of turning the short-term weight improvement into long-term weight control. The majority of people enter into a frustrating yo-yo pattern of weight fluctuation, while progressively accumulating medical diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. continued ...